The Physical Activity Climate in Minnesota Middle and High Schools

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

This article describes policies, practices, and facilities that form the physical activity climate in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota metro area middle and high schools and examines how the physical activity climate varies by school characteristics, including public/private, school location and grade level.

Methods:

Surveys examining school physical activity practices, policies and environment were administered to principals and physical education department heads from 115 middle and high schools participating in the Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer-Identifying Determinants of Eating and Activity (TREC-IDEA) study.

Results:

While some supportive practices were highly prevalent in the schools studied (such as prohibiting substitution of other classes for physical education); other practices were less common (such as providing opportunity for intramural (noncompetitive) sports). Public schools vs. private schools and schools with a larger school enrollment were more likely to have a school climate supportive of physical activity.

Conclusions:

Although schools reported elements of positive physical activity climates, discrepancies exist by school characteristics. Of note, public schools were more than twice as likely as private schools to have supportive physical activity environments. Establishing more consistent physical activity expectations and funding at the state and national level is necessary to increase regular school physical activity.

Samuelson, Lytle, Farbakhsh, Moe, and Sirard are with the Dept of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. Pasch is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Health Education, University of Texas at Austin.